RBS inquiry details to be published in March

The City regulator in the UK today bowed to pressure and said it hoped to reveal details of its inquiry into the collapse of Royal Bank of Scotland by the end of March.

The City regulator in the UK today bowed to pressure and said it hoped to reveal details of its inquiry into the collapse of Royal Bank of Scotland by the end of March.

In a letter to the British Treasury Select Committee, Financial Services Authority (FSA) chairman Adair Turner said the watchdog would seek the necessary permission from RBS to make public key findings, although he stressed it would not be a "blow-by-blow account".

The decision follows calls for the FSA to remove the secrecy surrounding its RBS probe, with the chairman of the committee yesterday joining demands for Turner to publish details.

The FSA's pledge may not be enough to quieten critics, who have demanded the release of the full report.

British Business Secretary Vince Cable called in Turner for a meeting to discuss disclosing as much as possible of the findings.

A Business Department spokesman said: "He (Mr Cable) has previously said this should be in the public domain. He recognises there are constraints, but he is keen for as much as possible of it to be made public."

Late last month, the FSA ruled out action against former RBS bosses, including Fred Goodwin, after finding no evidence of fraud or dishonest activity in the lead-up to the financial crisis.

But the watchdog did not release the results of its 18-month investigation, saying the Financial Services and Markets Act prevented it disclosing information in the absence of consent.

British Treasury Select Committee head Andrew Tyrie proposed in a letter to Turner yesterday that the Act permitted a summary to be published if consent was sought.

Turner agreed today it was "extremely unsatisfactory" not to be able to publish a public account and said the FSA was working towards gaining consent from RBS and "a number of third parties".

"We do not believe it appropriate to publish these in full, but now propose that we ask RBS whether it is willing to give its permission for the FSA to use the information gathered as a key input to the development of a report," he wrote.

"We do not envisage a detailed blow-by-blow account, but a clear description of any key failings, whether related to FSA supervisory processes or to the decisions made by the board and executives of the bank."

Disgraced former RBS chief executive Goodwin has already said he had no objection to details being published, but Turner urged the Commons committee and Government to lend support in gaining necessary consent.

RBS is now 83%-owned by the British taxpayer after being bailed out at the height of the financial crisis.

It was brought to its knees by a series of risky moves, including the acquisition of ABN Amro just before the credit crunch struck.

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